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“Principal Vs Principle” – When To Use These Two Words?

by Shahnawaz Alam

The spelling and pronunciation of certain words may often confuse you when using them. “principal vs principle,” for instance, is an example of words that sound the same when pronounced. 

But they are not the same when you have to write them down on paper. They have different meanings and spellings.

The word principle means a law, a guide, or a fact. It generally refers to the fundamentality of a fact. They are generally used in science, chemistry, and other facts-related subjects.

On the other hand, the word Principal refers to–

the headmaster of an organization, a school, a college, or a company. 

Principal also means original, first, fundamental, or most significant. 

When using these words during writing, you need to avoid being wrong. 

Words with such identical roots may confuse you. Here is a simplification of all of these words so that you don’t have to misuse them in the wrong places. 

Here is a simple description of Principal vs. Principle–

Principal Vs. Principle: Which One Is The Right Word?

Which one is the right word

Principal and Principal have the same roots. Since words such as these end up with similar pronunciation and meanings, you may confuse one for the other. 

Principal and Principle have entered English through Old French, also with their Latin roots.

Principium–  Latin root for the word Principle means “source.” Principalis–which is the Latin root for the word Principal means “first.”

While we still feel confused over Principal vs Principle, the roots of the words remain hidden deeper in similar words like princip, princeps meaning ‘chief’ and ‘first’ consecutively. 

Although the words have quite similar pronunciations, they differ in meaning.

If you want to use both of these words properly, you need to understand the difference in their meanings. Here are the different meanings of Principal vs principle–

Do you get confused between the two words anytime vs any time? If yes, then click here understanding of the two concepts.

Principle Definition  

As a noun, the word Principle offers several meanings. The word primarily means–

  • a fundamental truth
  • a set of rules that governs someone’s behavior.” 
  • morally approved behaviors”. 
  • The word can also be used to signify “key features” or similar meanings. 


  1. What are the key principles of modernism? 
  2. Basic Principles of human behavior. 
  3. The doctrine was based on three fundamental principles.
  4. These people lack all understanding of scientific principles.
  5. It is simply against my principles to lie to anyone.
  6. Martin Luther King once remarked that at the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
  7. People’s rights are the founding principles of this country.
  8. He abandoned his principles and cheated on the test.
  9. He doesn’t invest in the arms industry on principle.
  10. The principle here is to agree to buy a certain amount of a commodity at a certain price from farmers in these countries.

The difference between Principal vs Principle does not only remain within their meanings. Principle is a noun when the word Principal is an adjective. So there is a basic difference. 

Principle: Synonyms and Similar Words

  • Value
  • Belief
  • Moral
  • Norm

Here are some examples of sentences with the above mentioned synonyms and similar words of Principle: 

  • The government must reflect the different values these groups have.
  • They hold very middle-class values.
  • The older generation have a different set of values.
  • He is a firm believer in traditional family values.
  • The countries of South Asia also share many common values.
  • What lessons will you teach your daughter about values and money?
  • The group are known for their belief in witchcraft and magic.
  • It is impossible to separate belief from emotion.
  • Others base the hope on belief in the resurrection of Christ.
  • The Mexicans also practised a similar purification at the end of every fifty-two years, in the belief that it was time for the world to come to an end.
  • But he’s also a man of moral fibre.
  • They were really decent people of good character and moral values who gave me a wonderful childhood.
  • In spite of her strict moral standards on premarital relationships, Carmen was obviously stirred deeply by desire.
  • Things that were unacceptable a few years ago have now become the norm.
  • We always look into the culture, the expectations, the norms and values of the countries we go to.
  • One child per family is fast becoming the norm in some countries.

Principal Definition 

Among both of these words that come from French roots, Principal is an adjective. The word has several meanings like –

  • Most important
  • Influential
  • consequential 

The word can also be used as a noun. When used as a noun, the scope of the word principal increases by several degrees. It can mean–

  • A person who has a controlling authority. 
  • The chief executive officer of a business or educational institution. 
  • The capital money over which an investor earns his interests.

But how do you use this word? Here are some examples with demonstrations–


  1. Mr. Williams is the Principal of our college. 
  2. He has yet to pay his principal sum to Mr.Wilson. 
  3. They shared their concerns regarding the final examination with the school principal.
  4. Their principal concern is bound to be that of winning the next general election.
  5. Morton became his principal adviser.
  6. The principal crops are wheat, pulse, maize, millet, with some cotton and sugar-cane.
  7. The college principal promised to look into the matter.
  8. The Danube is one of the principal rivers of Europe.
  9. The principal announced the final exam results on the last day before summer vacation.
  10. The judge examined the principal witness.

Principal: Synonyms and Similar words

  • Headmaster/Headmistress
  • Rector
  • Superintendent
  • Dean

Here are some example sentences using synonyms and similar words of Principal: 

  • Professor Armando Dippet was the headmaster of Hogwarts before Professor Albus Dumbledore.
  • Professor Mcgonagall was the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts at the time of Dumbledore’s death.
  • He was once made rector of his university, and had other distinctions bestowed on him.
  • Advancing through the grades of principal and assistant superintendent, he was city superintendent of schools from 1867 until 1880.
  • She was Dean of the Science faculty at St. Xaviers University.

Principal Vs Principle: The Right Word

While using these words, you may make mistakes thinking that one word is right and the other one is wrong in terms of pronunciations and spelling. 

But both of these are the right word, and they have different meanings. The usual mistake is to use one word in place of the other one.  

Here are the common mistakes that you may make with the use–

  • As a marketer, you need to understand all the basic principals of marketing ( Principles is the right word) 
  • When I got into the classroom, the Principle had already started the class. Upon seeing me late, he was very angry. ( Principal is the right word)

How To Remember The Difference? 

  1. The word Principal, which means the head of the authority, has “Pal” in the end. The word pal refers to a friend, a person. This trick can help you keep in mind that the word “principal” is associated with a person. 
  2. Just like the word “rule” has a “le” at the end of the word, “Principle” also has the same. The meaning of rule and Principle are closer. This is a smart way of remembering the actual meaning of the word Principle. 
  3. “Principal” can serve both as a noun and an adjective. But Principle only is a noun. 
  4. You can also make a deliberate distinction between their meanings. While pronouncing Principle the end of the word is pronounced with a quick effort of the lips. On the other hand, when you pronounce Principal the end of the word is a little prolonged. You can remember these simple differences in pronunciations to differentiate them.  

Principal Vs Principle: Confusion Cleared 

The word Principal is both a noun and an adjective. The word Principle, on the other hand, is only a noun. The word Principal can mean a person when used as a noun. Principle, on the other hand, can also mean the fundamental asset on which an investor can earn his profit. Principle usually means a fundamental fact. 

I hope this article will clear all of your confusion regarding these two similar-sounding words. If you have any questions related to the same topic, you can ask them in the comment.

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